Bioshock was released on August 21, 2007, for the Xbox 360 and the PC. We wanted to do something special for the 10th anniversary of the game. So, I present to you the Bioshock retroactive review.
I can remember picking up my preorder from Gamestop. I had just made it to my car before starting to rip open the packaging. My undivided attention was centered around the BigDaddy statue that was bundled with the pre-ordered Xbox 360 version. I marveled at the detail and the weight of it as I carefully turned this lumbering creature over in my hands. Fortunately, I could only speculate about the role that it could possibly play in the game. I was not disappointed.
…A man who had an idea that all men should be able to reap exactly what they sow.
Bioshock is a game about an objectivist. A man named Andrew Ryan who outgrew both society and organized religion. A man who had an idea that all men should be able to reap exactly what they sow. Andrew Ryan is convinced that you don’t owe a government, a king or a god for your creation. He also felt that your creativeness should not be silenced or stifled by the less open-minded. This is what makes the act of creation uniquely yours. But in Bioshock, you don’t play as Andrew Ryan, you play as Jack. In 1960, Jack survives a mid-Atlantic plane crash. You swim to the only nearby land, a lighthouse. In the lighthouse, you become indoctrinated to Mr. Ryan’s ideology as you make way to the only exit, a bathysphere terminal. This bathysphere has only one destination, Rapture.
The city of Rapture is arguably the star of Bioshock. An impossible city sitting on the floor of the ocean, Rapture is a marvel of engineering that would be impossible today. With its Art Deco skyscrapers and neon lights, it illuminates the kelp as giant squid swim past.
Bioshock is the type of game that comes out of the woodwork and resides in your subconscious for decades to come.
Once you reach rapture you are introduced to Atlus as he guides you away from an attacking splicer and into safety. Atlus then asks you to kindly do him a favor and reach his endangered family. Along the way, you run into many more splicers, some Little Sisters and their armored brutish protectors, the Big Daddies. Each time you encounter the little sisters you have to make a decision. You are rewarded for your decision immediately with ADAM which is the game’s currency for new plasmid combat abilities. Additionally, the sum of these decisions will impact the ending. The plasmids make for interesting combat in the game as they stack well with melee and armed attacks as you defend against the splicers. The plasmids also allow you to be creative with their impact and use in battle throughout the game as you unlock more abilities.
Timothy Leary wrote in 1964 that “The nature of the experience depends almost entirely on set and setting.” Although he was talking about psychoactive drugs, I find this to be true of extremely good games with a strong narrative. There is a moment in this game that made me question whether or not I should continue. No game has ever made me question my control over it before nor since. Bioshock is the type of game that comes out of the woodwork and resides in your subconscious for decades.
If you have never played it before, please do yourself a favor and do so.
Bioshock is available for PC, PS3, PS4, XBox 360 and XBox One. If you have never played it before, please do yourself a favor and do so. If you have visited Rapture, then dust off that copy or try the remastered version and relive the story that challenged your understanding of video game narrative.
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